On 15 May 2013, Brownsea Island celebrated 50 years of the National Trust on Brownsea Island.
The day started for the Church with a full peal rung on the Church Bells by Ringers from Salisbury Guild of Ringers, 5088 changes taking 2 hours 43 minutes from 10am. The Church service to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Re-Hallowing of St Mary’s was led by Canon Keith Hugo.
On 15 May 1963, Olave, Lady Baden-Powell, World Chief Guide planted a Mulberry tree, 50 years on her grand daughter Gill Clay unveiled a plaque for that tree. Dame Helen Ghosh, Director General, National Trust then planted a new Mulberry tree for 50 years of the National Trust opening Brownsea. Three volunteers with Brownsea Island Voluntary Wardens, were given ‘Freedom of Brownsea Island’ awards, for 50 years as volunteers with BIVW. The rain then started followed by a hail storm. The guests quickly made their way into the candlelit St Mary’s Church for the service. Live coverage of the service could also be seen in the marquee as the Church only seats about 100.
The Bishop of Salisbury, Rt. Revd. Nicholas Holtam, started from Brownsea Castle in bright sunshine to process to the Church, the rain started as he reached Church Field followed by a hail storm. The procession took shelter in the marquee and the Bishop, Clergy and Churchwarden were taken to Church on the new large golf buggy used to transport the less mobile. National Trust volunteers nicknamed this the ‘Popemobile’.
Churchwardens on Brownsea are used to being multi-tasking so Janet acted as Verger and carried our Processional Cross, Nicola and Ruby carried their Churchwarden’s staffs. With the candelabra lit and flower arrangements on the Altar and window sills the Church was beautiful. During the Bishop’s address the Church cockerel came up the steps and crowed as he wanted his food, wildlife is very much part of life on Brownsea. The Bishop dedicated a memorial to Helen Brotherton, who died in 2009 a life long conservation activist and supporter of Brownsea Island.
After the service came the Garden Party with speeches. Afternoon Tea was served in the marquee, with guests invited to sign a ‘Memories of the Day’ book and to see a special 50 years film and exhibition in the Visitor Centre. Most of the invited guest left Brownsea at 6pm to return to Poole Quay while on Brownsea, staff, volunteers, islanders and guests enjoyed a Hog Roast with entertainment by a 15 piece Swing Band, ‘In the Pink’. Boats left Brownsea for Poole Quay at 10.30pm.
A long day, but certainly one to remember!